Archive for the Confessional Category

Does anyone know what Christmas is all about?

I didn’t quote Charlie Brown exactly. But it’s close enough. This post will also be a little all over the place. Possibly.

I got a case of the ass last night. Ok, it’s not really exclusive to last night as I usually have a case of the ass over something, but a lot of the time I can keep it in check so that once I calm down I realize it really isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Last night I didn’t keep my tongue in check, or rather I let my fingers fly since I was commenting on a comment on a blog post I’ve been following. I thought I had been mercifully spared from my rash verbal vomit since my comment didn’t show up. I had already commented without using my DragonLady pseudonym, but comment #2 was with “DragonLady” making me think the comment went into the spam hole where it should have stayed. :sigh: But it didn’t, and so if you care, here is the article: It’s Not Us Against Them

I have tried to stay out of the Duck Dynasty drama just like I stayed out of the Chick-Fil-A one. For the same reason, and because it all boils down to a bunch of posturing by both supporters and opposers of Dan Cathy and now Phil Robertson. So I will go ahead and lay my cards out on the table. I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A because of being gluten free and all I ever ate there was the breaded, deep-fried chicken on a bun that I can’t eat any more. I could also mention that their “chicken” is likely of the same low quality as McDonald’s. Oh, wait. I just did. I also have never watched Duck Dynasty nor do I plan to. Generally speaking, I don’t watch TV period, but especially not “reality” TV. Which, by the way, is not real. I will occasionally watch Ice Road Truckers and the similar one with the truckers on the “most dangerous roads” whatever that show is. But I only watch those if my husband has them on and I have nothing better to do. I will also go ahead and state that yes, I believe homosexual activity (same-sex sex) is a sin, just as fornication, adultery, bestiality, and pornography are. Sexual sin is sexual sin before God who gave humans the good gift of sex to be used within the context of marriage between one man and one woman for life as he created it to be. Full disclosure, I am a former fornicator who for many years before and after marriage was addicted to various forms of pornography for the sole purpose of self-gratification. The self-gratification amounted to adultery of the heart. So I am no stranger to the bondage or consequences (which were thankfully pretty light) of sexual sin, and absolutely will not act towards others with judgement and/or condemnation who have or are committing sexual sin because I understand the desire. I have never had to deal with same sex attraction, nor with any sexual attraction to any animal. I do, however, have many gay friends, and several gay family members. I also have had at least one family member who was guilty of bestiality. Therefore, I can’t sit back in my self-righteous ivory tower looking down on homosexuals as an abstract group. They are real people with real struggles who need a real Savior just like I do for the same reason, and not because of the specific way they sin, but because we all sin. This is what I was trying to explain to Chad the other night. The end of the discussion came when he asked if you could “pray away the gay.” I told him if it were just that simple then his dad and I could just pray away the alcoholism and drug addiction.

All that said, this isn’t a post about homosexuality. Nor is it a post where I pledge my support for Mr. Cathy and Mr. Robinson. There is much more at stake in the Kingdom of God than the American right to free speech. I will give my opinion that the reason American Christians are so fired up about losing their voice and influence in the American/Western culture has less to do with standing firm for Christ and much more to do with fear of having to actually suffer for Christ. You know, the way Jesus promised us as Christians that we would suffer with Him if we really follow Him. Because our feel-good materialistic American culture that is the product of 20th century consumerism wants the good life now, and doesn’t really want to give up anything in order to have everything in Christ. We want to have our cake and eat it too.

I think it is all about comfort, and oh, how well do I know the futility of searching for comfort. Comfort is an idol for me almost as high up as my idol of pride. I’ve sought it in books, TV, food, tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sex, church, family, my parents (Mom specifically), friendships, my husband, my kids, running, biking, gaming, pets, blogs, social media. The list goes on and on and on. But none of those things or the myriad of other things bring lasting comfort. Lasting comfort is only found in Jesus. Now that is real easy for me to say, but way hard for me to believe. I know all the trite phrases. I know all the cliches. The Landmark Missionary Baptist deacon’s daughter Reagan conservative has had all the head knowledge for as long as I can remember. It all seems to fall apart when the trials hit because I have trust issues because I have Daddy issues. So knowing and believing were not one and the same for me. Out of sync, if you will. There were a few times over the past year where I spent time in prayer confessing and repenting for not trusting the only One who can be trusted. Why didn’t I trust? Because all of my little gods have always ultimately disappointed me by not becoming the lasting peace and comfort I crave.

Pastor Nate preached about comfort in the light of the Christmas narrative. In the midst of the sermon when he went from Matthew 1 to 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 and explained how Jesus is our comfort because he has already experienced the suffering we do. He and He alone really does know how we feel. Ridicule, betrayal, rejection, death of loved ones, loneliness. But he never really was alone. Not even on the cross. And a light bulb came on for me.

For he has not despised or abhorred

the affliction of the afflicted,

and he has not hidden his face from him,

but has heard, when he cried to him. (Psalm 22:24, ESV)

Sunday night, before I could forget, I wrote down some notes on what I managed to piece together (so far) about how Jesus is my comforter.

When Jesus was on the cross quoting Psalm 22, he hadn’t been forsaken by God the Father. The Father was still there, it just didn’t feel like it. Just like when we are so overcome in our trials and cannot feel God’s presence and wonder if he really is there. But He was there for Jesus and he is there for us because of Jesus. And Jesus really does know how we feel.

There was a brief moment of peace, and the comfort remains. My life circumstances are still as they were, there are still issues unresolved, but I can rest knowing and believing they will one day be resolved, and the broken will be fixed. Even me. Unearned favor. Amazing grace.

So what is Christmas all about? Christmas was the beginning of the end. Immanuel, God with us, the Creator came and lived among the created as one of us. Fully human and fully divine. Laying aside the riches and the power and the glory and honor that He rightfully owns and deserves to become the spotless sacrificial lamb of atonement. Born into poverty in a stable. His family having to flee to Egypt to protect him from being murdered by Herod as Herod slaughtered an untold number of innocent boys aged 2 and younger to protect his throne. Ultimately willingly submitting to a sham trial and torturous beating before a horrendous death by crucifixion under Roman authority to appease the religious Jews. Rising to life on the 3rd day showing that His sacrifice for our sins was accepted by the Father so that we who believe in Jesus by faith are granted grace and reconciled to God the Father though Jesus.

It’s not about our American rights or Western culture. It’s not about sex or chicken or reality TV. It’s not about whether people say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” It’s not about our temporal comfort. It’s about a Savior come to redeem unworthy and rebellious children.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17, ESV)

Maniacal Monday #28

Let me start off with a confession. I didn’t run this weekend. I was going to Saturday, but I slept in, and then we had to go to Lowes, and then I had some Christmas prep to do which took well into Sunday. Plus, it was pretty stinking hot for the weekend before Christmas. Mid 70′s? Really? So I was like “I’ll run Sunday morning because it is supposed to rain and it won’t seem so hot.” Right. It didn’t rain until after 6pm. Whatevs. I start leave tomorrow, and will have the rest of the week to run/bike whenever. ;)

Christmas shows. So, I have several DVDs and one VHS of my favorite Christmas cartoons/claymations. Every year I take the time to watch all of them, though usually not in one big marathon viewing (not that there are that many), and I’ve just been doing one here and there. Last night I watched Frosty the Snowman. Like you care. lol. Anyway, so I am watching it, and the whole thing is just so ridiculously bad. I had to stop myself from voicing my irritation with the whole thing on social media. And then I had to watch The Year Without a Santa Claus to purge. As if that premise of a story is any better. ;)

I woke up with hives this morning. Fun times. I think I went to bed with them, but I didn’t realize the full scope of the itching until I got up this morning. :-/

Friday night I took both kids to A.C. Moore. It was supposed to just be Jamie and to only get yarn. $130 later… :eek: Chad started an “argument” with me on the way back. He was on the offensive, and I was trying to explain my position without being a jerk, but it was hard because I kept getting frustrated with myself for not being able to clearly articulate what I wanted to say. Meanwhile, Jamie was in the backseat laughing at the exchange which ended so ridiculously and abruptly with Jamie almost choking on her food from laughing so hard. She said later, “No one wins when Chad argues.” lol

Speaking of Lowes, we got paint Saturday as James wants to go ahead and paint the living room. Finally. I’ve been bemoaning those gray walls since we bought the place. He also told me how he wants to decorate the house, and essentially, the living room is going to become a “formal” dining room, and the den/family room will be the living room. Lots of work with that, but a lot of it will be finishing what was started in the den/family room.

Apparently Amber isn’t pregnant. And I think Tiger is the one in heat because he seems to be after her much more than she is bawling. Why haven’t I gotten them fixed yet? :sigh: Also, someone pooped in the floor instead of the litter box during the night. Pretty sure that was KitKat.

And finally, here is a little Snow Miser and Head Miser. Because they make that show. :)

Raise your hands

And another draft comes out of the hole. Although, I don’t think what I am about to write about is what I originally intended. Especially now that I remember what it was, but I only had a couple of sentences, so I can just let that go and start over whenever (or if ever) I decide to write about it. ;)

I have a little slightly irrelevant background. I got irked about something early in the summer or late spring. Whenever Pope Francis was chosen and announced. I don’t care enough to look up when that was exactly as it had little to do with him or Roman Catholicism. I got irked over landmarkism that I grew up in. I may have written about it before and how I came to realize it is actually a cult. But this isn’t really about landmarkism. It’s about not knowing what to do with my hands.

I’ve got a theory as to the reason why the churches I grew up in were so stoic when it came to singing. But I don’t really have much to back it up with, so I won’t go there. The fact remains that nothing was done with our hands while singing except holding a hymnal. There was no clapping, no hands raised, no foot tapping, and absolutely nothing that even remotely resembled dancing. Except for young kids who had motions to go along with the little kid songs. Oh, and the song leader (depending on his/her age) would use one hand to keep time while holding the hymnal in the other. Anything else was done by “holy rollers” and/or those who were “putting on a show.”

Now that I am not in that environment, I look at it totally different. I see hands raised, swaying, clapping, practically dancing, foot tapping (I do this a lot), and people just wide open when they sing. And I see people standing perfectly still as they sing. Since I’ve had the privilege to be onstage a lot the last few years, I see it all together with facial expressions and all. It is so wonderful to be able to see that.

Then there’s me. What do I do with my hands? Because that stigma is still rooted in me with what people will think if I go wide open. As if I am still among the churches I grew up in. I remember the first time I raised my hand. There was a part in a song I was leading that was acapella, and a long enough part to feel awkward. But I forced a hand up because it fit with the song. Sometimes I am fine with tapping my foot and “drumming” the pew in front of me. I don’t clap because it hurts my hands…and the hubs can’t keep time which throws me off. lol. But there are times during certain songs that I feel like raising my hands and getting all into it, and I am frustrated that I don’t feel comfortable doing it because of how I raised in church. It’s silly though. I’ve raised hands and gotten all into ball games and concerts. So I think I should feel comfortable doing it at church too.

We’ll see…

Walking a thin line

If I keep at it, I might get everything out of my drafts. Granted this never got any farther than a title until today. I may or may not be able to convey what I want out, but coherence isn’t necessarily a requirement for me to publish a post. ;)

I have always loved music and all kinds. I’m really not a fan of electronica (rave/club) because it is like listening to a migraine. Daddy always had to have either the radio or tv on, so I grew up on country and western. If there was a musical variety show on TV, we watched it. Porter Waggoner, Sonny & Cher, Carol Burnette, Lawrence Welk which came on right before Hee Haw, the Mandrells, and even Donny & Marie. Yes, I just showed my age. Mom said the family used to get me to sing Hey Hey We’re The Monkeys at Granny’s house when I was too little to remember. My younger uncles listened to pop/rock and so I credit them with my early rocker side. And if I liked a song, I was singing it no matter if I could get the words right or not. Honey badger didn’t care.

Back in dem days (my Arkansas accent was pointed out this morning as I quoted the Borg, and so I am throwing it on here too), Walmart sold musical instruments, and decent ones. Guitars, banjos, mandolins, violins (maybe). So any trip to Walmart involved me making a bee-line to that section. Work day at church? Guess who was on the piano. Kids/teens special song(s) at church? I tried my best to become invisible. Yeah, I don’t know why. I never liked doing that. But I wanted to play an instrument. Piano, guitar, banjo, fiddle (not violin – fiddle). Any of them or all of them. I remember having a small toy plasic guitar with strings that were “tunable.” It was 4 strings, so it was closer to a ukulele, and once the strings all broke, they got replaced with rubber bands. I didn’t care. I made so many kazoos with a toilet paper roll, wax paper, and rubber band it wasn’t even funny. But no real instruments, and no lessons.

When I was around 11 or so, Aunt Lena gave me a little piano lesson. She taught me the notes on the white keys. Later Becky Leslie sat down with me at one of the church work days and taught me the flats and sharps (the black keys). After we moved into town, I got a little keyboard which might have had 32 keys. Then one of my friends got a guitar, and another friend tried teaching us, and by the time I was 16, I finally convinced my dad to buy me a guitar. And the beast was unleashed. I took lessons until the teacher stopped teaching, and spent the rest of the time teaching myself, finding out in the marching band trying to play xylophone that while I can technically read music, I cannot functionally read music. In other words, I play by ear. Hence, I played along with my records, tapes, and cds.

Now that I have gotten halfway around Grandma’s mulberry bush, let me see if I can bring this all the way around. I wanted to be a rock star when I grew up. All the hours practicing were for that purpose alone. However, I lacked the nerve to either make or join a band or even play in front of more than a handful of really close friends. At least not without some “liquid courage.” So I still finished college and got a real job, and once I had kids, I knew I wasn’t going to be the rock star I wanted to be.

And then several years later, I found myself drawn to joining a worship team at church. It was great, for a time. But as people left, I found myself increasingly in the spotlight and not really wanting to be there. It became a chore dealing with drama from outside the team, and I finally stepped down from it, and then away from that church. Upon joining another church, I was looking at how to serve, and decided to join their worship team because, really, I just love music. I had to audition, and that scared the crap out of me, which is where I am finally going to get to the point of this.

Remember the lack of nerve? That comes from a lack of confidence. It didn’t matter how many people gave me encouragement, I never thought I was good enough. I didn’t play good enough. I didn’t sing good enough. Yet, I passed the audition, and Bradford keeps putting me on the worship schedule so I can’t be that bad. ;)

So where I am is trying to overcome that insecurity, but not go so far on the other side to get all full of myself. The talent I have and the desire to use it are both gifts from God. To be able to use them for him on a worship team is far better than being a rock star. And as Petra told me, I’m playing for God, not the people even though it is a position of leadership in that we lead the people in worship.

What is this post really about? Bringing my junk out into the open. When I bring my junk out into the open and call it what it is, it seems to have less of a hold over me. So there ya go. A couple of minutes you will never get back. lol :) And I didn’t proofread.

Just let it go?

Here’s a little something I’m dragging out of the drafts hole. It was written over a span of about 5 months from Sep 2011 – Jan 2012.

I had this little running “joke” with our former pastor on Sunday mornings:

Pastor: “How are you?”
Me: “Self-righteous and bitter.”
Pastor: “Alrighty then.” (or something to that effect)

I always answered it in a joking kind of way, but really, I was/am dead serious. I think he knew it. The result of being self-righteous and bitter is being angry…often. Combine that with out of control (or out of sync) hormones (that’s a story in itself, which my doc thinks is more likely linked to my diet and somewhat addressed here), and you have a volatile mix. I’m going off at the least little thing, nit-picking over insignificant things, and emotionally collapsing into tears either from sheer anger or guilt from getting so angry over something stupid. Did I mention I was never much of a cryer? But I digress.

The self-righteousness and the bitterness have been there for years, but I never really noticed them for what they were. Generally speaking, I filed them away under a blanket of righteous indignation. After all, I was right to be angry because I was being wronged, or someone I loved was being wronged.

The anger wouldn’t be such an issue if it was just anger, albeit justified anger and not getting mad over something stupid. But, even if it is “justifiable” anger, it becomes an issue when it is something I’m not letting go of.

I keep dwelling on issues when they pop up in my head. The longer I stew on them, the angrier I get, and the angrier I get the more I want to go off on a self-righteous rant letting the “offender” know just how ate up they are. I have finally realized that the things that piss me off the most are things I do myself, and more often than not involve pride.

But at the heart of the matter, it boils down to a lack of forgiveness on my part. This lack of forgiveness is most blatantly on display towards my husband. Of all the people/situations I’ve stewed over and held grudges over, I have mostly held grudges against him, and not well held under control. But it is no more or no less venomous and vile. Sheer poison. It isn’t as if he is blameless. Even he will tell people there is only one thing that I have ever adamantly put my foot down about. It’s that one hot button trigger that holds the potential to split us up. I’ve threatened divorce (with every intention of backing it up), and I’ve wished all kinds of calamity on him from arrest to death. Yes, you read that right. I have wished he would die.

That’s cold-hearted right there. Completely unloving.

I know that my response is every bit as wrong as what he does that prompts it. I can see it coming, and I pray for grace to “shut up and pray”, and I quote scripture to myself and swear I will be quiet and let it go. But more often than not, I succumb to the voice that tells me I don’t deserve be treated like that, lied to, messed with, etc, and it all goes downhill from there. But then a day or two later, it’s over, we pick up and try again or just avoid any mention of what went down…pretending nothing ever happened and all is well. But it’s not. The hurt is still there. The broken promises still there. The “I want what I want and I want it on my terms” is still there, even when we confess and apologize to each other afterward. It’s a vicious cycle.

I’m left with questions. Why can’t I let go of the bitterness and resentment, and just forgive? Why do I insist on hanging on to it when I really don’t want it and know that it just eats me up?

Just to bring this up to date, my diet wasn’t the issue with my out of control emotions. In many ways it was a result, and that still remains an issue. Also divorce has been taken off the table as an option. I will add that once that no longer became an option, things got worse. WAY worse. I also have answered those 2 questions, and well, I pretty much had answered it within the original post. Self-righteousness for one, but victimhood also.

The solution is constant prayer. Constant preaching the gospel to myself. Constant reminder that the old me died with Jesus, and I’ve been set free from the bondage of self-gratification. Constant reminder that I am not God, that He sees what I can’t, and that He is in control. Constant reminder that He never promised ease and comfort in this life. Constant reminder of 1 Corinthians love. Constant reminder that I live in a broken and fallen world, and I am still a work in progress. Constant reminder to be thankful always.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9, ESV)

Thinking out loud

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26, ESV)

I don’t think I took my “happy pill” yesterday. There was that moment where I looked at the bottle and could not remember if I had taken it or not, but decided against risking an OD. Not that I know if you can OD on 40mg of Celexa. I’ve missed doses before. This past Saturday as a matter of fact. There were no ill effects. Yesterday though. I bottomed out.

I blame(d) the lack of medication because it was just out of the blue despair. Or so I thought. I did enough backtracking through the day to discover the trigger was a video I had watched. From there I was able to root out the discontentment and resentment that were in the pit I found myself in. It’s a dark pit where the darkness is heavy and constricting. Prayers were said, tears were shed. Withdrawl happened. Not complete withdrawl, but alone time to sort the truth from the lies.

I remember the first time God spoke “audibly” to me. It wasn’t a loud booming voice like I imagine he spoke to Moses. Of course there is a story to it. I spent probably half my early childhood begging my parents for a swing set. Like this:

EXIF/JPEG image with thumb

Yes, I got the kids what I wanted when I was a kid. Anyway, I never got one, but my dad made me swing by buying some nylon (or plastic) rope, and hanging it from a tree limb. In hindsight, that was a way better swing. Anyway, that old rope swing gave me many many hours of fun. I would get it swinging as high as I could (which was way higher than a “little” metal swing set swing could go), and then jump out at the forward apex. I did that so much one weekend that my legs were so sore I could barely walk for 3 days.

That was what I was doing: seeing just how high I could get the swing going before jumping out. As I was on the back swing just before that apex, I clearly heard a voice in my head telling me to stop. As I came back down, I put my feet down to stop. As soon as my feet were firm and stable on the ground, the rope broke. If I hadn’t listened to that voice, I would have gotten hurt. Maybe seriously, maybe not. Regardless, I would have been hurt. But it was years before I would realize what that voice was. Or rather, whose. I don’t remember how old I was, and I may or may not have still been using that swing while in junior high. ;)

I don’t think I ever told anyone about that except for my mom, though I might have told my dad when I told him the rope broke. But I don’t remember actually telling him. I know I did because he was going to notice and then wonder why I didn’t tell him. Plus, he was the only one who was going to fix it. lol But I think it was just within the last year that I told my mom the whole story of the incident. She recognized the voice for what it was. She may not remember what day it is, or people’s names, or whether or not someone has died, but Alzheimer’s has not yet touched her mind where theology and doctrine are concerned.

I wanted to hear Him yesterday like that, and well, every time I find myself in the pit. I don’t, but yet I don’t really feel completely alone either. I mean, in the deepest, darkest, heaviest point I do, but once the load lifts, I can tell I wasn’t alone. It’s really hard to explain it. It’s kind of like and aftertaste, only just a feeling. A closeness if you will.

So, this was a bit ADD. Hence the title. That’s how I roll.

Get a hold of yourself

I heard that a lot growing up. I’m pretty sure my dad was the one who would say it to me, but it could have been my mom or both of them. It was a warning when I would get either too excited and was starting to get too “rambunctious” or was working up to a meltdown over something. It was a long way of saying “calm down” or “chill out.” Without that outside discipline, I would have been wide-open, full-throttle all the time. I just never really developed that as a self-discipline whether happy, sad, angry, or whatever so that out on my own, there was little restraint in acting out.

Slowly, I have come to understand that acting out rather than taking a moment or so to “get a hold of myself” results in destructive behavior one way or another. No matter the circumstances I tend to speak or act without thinking about the effect on others. Or I sit and stew on it internalizing until I end up metaphorically vomiting on someone who probably didn’t have anything to do with what I was stewing on. Or I just act out without knowing all the facts and/or giving the benefit of the doubt and then find out I was completely wrong about the whole situation.

The past few weeks, there has been a recurrent theme popping up in sermons I’m listening to (both at my church, and podcasts), some of the blogs I read, and a book I’m currently reading. When the same thing keeps popping up, it’s a good indication that I need to be paying close attention. And so I’ve been mulling all this over. Chewing on it, if you will. It makes perfect sense, but there was just still a little bit gnawing at me with it with regards to application. Sometimes I’m slow. For instance, years ago, I heard a sermon (I think it was more of a series of sermons) about a particular topic. I “got it,” but I wholeheartedly disagreed, and therefore didn’t believe it applied to me at all. Years later, I heard another sermon, and “got it” to the point of believing it applied to me. I even heard another teacher teach on it, fully agreeing, and later found myself chewing it all over when the light bulb went off. It was the same thing I had heard as a kid and completely rejected, and this time I really “got it.” The whole concept. Better late than never right? ;)

Anyway, I’m now seeing a twist to this latest thing that I hadn’t expected. Since I have already put it out there once, I’ll put it out there again. Because that’s how I roll. My husband is an alcoholic/drug addict, and it is a sickness that spreads throughout the entire family. I struggle with it probably as much as he does because I think (wrongly) that it should be easier for him to give up the drugs and alcohol than it is. I fall into that thinking because I was relatively easily delivered from my porn addiction (which was just a portion of the problem). When my drinking gets to be “problem drinking,” it’s relatively easy for me to just not drink. I can carry around percocet with me 24×7 and not take it. But then I “conveniently” forget how hard it was to quit smoking and stay quit. And how many years I would still crave a cigarette. I still got an occasional craving.

But since I forget what is difficult for me, I fall into that trap of thinking I know the solution. “Just go to AA! You know it works!” Here’s the problem. He said once that at AA all they talk about is drinking, and that just makes him want to drink. That did not make a lick of sense to me despite the fact that I can spot a lit cigarette smouldering in the street as I am driving and crave so bad it takes every bit of willpower I have not to stop and buy a pack. I think it was Pastor Benji who was talking about what we concentrate on saying that for an alcoholic that’s trying to quit drinking by saying “Don’t drink! Don’t drink!” over and over to themselves is always thinking about drinking. And so, eventually, they will drink again. And now I get it.

Therefore, all the sermons, blogs, and the book are all saying the same thing. If you are always (or mostly) thinking about not committing a particular sin (or sins), your focus is on the wrong thing. It’s not merely a battle of wills. It’s like when Jesus was walking on the water toward the boat the disciples were in, and had Peter to walk out to him. Peter was walking on the water just fine as long as he was looking at Jesus. When he looked at the wind and the waves, he began to sink. He lost his focus on who was keeping him on top of the water in the storm. If any of us could overcome our sin by sheer willpower, we wouldn’t need Jesus at any point in our lives. Bottom line, we never stop needing Jesus. So instead of looking at our temptations and trying to overcome it by white-knuckling through the weakness, we need to look to Jesus and reach out to him. We will be overcome with exhaustion eventually trying to do it ourselves, but He will never let us go.

Rather than “getting a hold of myself,” I need to let go of myself. Rather than spending my energy on trying not to do what I don’t want to do, focus on doing what I know to be good, looking to Jesus to lead me where He wants me.

Full speed ahead

I had big plans and topics for this week. But things aren’t working out like I had planned. I’m in class for a couple of weeks so my mind is more occupied than normal with that. Last night was my scheduled counseling, so it was already late when I got home, and eating and going to bed were about all that happened. Tonight I plan to go to Al-Anon, but that’s going to depend upon how I feel when I get home. Plus, I have a basket full of laundry from Saturday that needs to be put away which also means I have some pants and tops that need to either be thrown back in the dryer or actually ironed.

Now, I have a post sitting in my drafts folder that kind of sums up why I don’t believe in coincidences. However, I’ve never really liked how it sounds because since it primarily involves me, I am afraid it seems self-aggrandizing. This weekend there was an incident with Lee that I won’t get into the details of because I have gossiped that enough even though I am still pretty pissed off about what happened to him. Anyway, James and I were informed of the incident that evening when we got to Lee & Rachel’s. Through the course of all of this, James and I convinced Lee & Rachel to come to church with us at Newhope church. We normally go to the afternoon service, and they were all for that. Since I played with the worship team that day, I was there for all 3 services, and therefore got to hear Pastor Nate’s sermon 3 times.

I’m going back up a little at this point because I just realized it is relevant. The incident occurred where we (both my husband and I and Lee & Rachel) used to go to church, and only involved one person there. It actually probably involves 2, but the other one is purely speculative based on information I shouldn’t know, but do because it indirectly impacted me. Anyway, I dumped part of my knowledge as I finally had the evidence of who was at the root of most of the trouble-making and connected a bunch of dots. And I was then told about another lady who also used to attend and why she finally quit going there. That crap pissed me all off too, because it’s so blatantly unbiblical, self-righteous, and downright mean and just plain evil.

So, there we all sat during the 3rd service, and Pastor Nate said, “If other churches don’t want you, we do.” That may not be the exact quote, but it’s the exact meaning. And that was the only time in all 3 services I heard him say that, which just happened to be the one service that Lee & Rachel came to…their first time there. And after what had happened the day before. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Now, for the friends I have at the old church who read my blog, I am not making a sweeping indictment of the entire church. Almost everyone there embodies how a follower of Jesus Christ should walk and conduct themselves. Also, I want to state for the record that I love each and every member of that church. But there are some destructive actions that have been made for at least 4 years that will have to be addressed sooner or later if that church is ever going to grow. And that means that someone is going to have to stand up to the bullies in truth and love.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16, ESV)

Insert clever title here

I had some small personal victory this past weekend. I also have some big old fail albeit with vindication. I was going to elaborate on the latter, but I have stewed on that too much, and it’s not my problem at all now that it has resulted in cutting all ties. As for the victory, well, that was one with my own self-esteem. Not that the war is over, just a couple of battles.

The hubby and I went to Lee & Rachel’s again Saturday night for dinner, and he decided before we left that I should take my guitar to play and sing around the fire. Really? How long have we been together and how did he not know what kind of terror that brings out in me? Ok, yeah, it’s not like they have never heard me play and sing. But I conceded and took it along with my old binder full of chords & lyrics & real sheet music. And much of what was in there was stuff I haven’t played since high school.

But that said, I played some Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, Eagles, Alan Jackson, Bangles (don’t judge me), and a couple more that I can’t remember. I know the whole Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks is shocking for anyone who knows me. ;) You know, songs everyone knows but don’t know until you hear it. And I might have had way too much wine too.

I made my debut with the C.O.R.E. Worship team yesterday. 4 songs 4 times each, including sound check. Was a long day, but, oh man. It was so much fun. It is such a privilege to be able to play with a group of such talented folks. My mic went dead during the first service. That was fun. I mean, I was ok with that, but since part of my role was vocals, having a working mic is kind of important. ;) Pastor Nate preached, and brought it! When I got home last night, I was wiped out tired, and I crashed into bed about 8. I didn’t drag myself out of be until 6, and was dragging then. But it was all just physical. I haven’t felt mentally wiped out like I expected. I guess not having to deal with a bunch of drama or dealing with dreading a bunch of drama makes a difference.

Our neighbors had their art festival over the weekend. I can’t remember if they host it once or twice a year. Regardless, we had the overgrown white-trash yard this year. But whatever. One of these days the yard will get mowed and maybe even before winter. LOL!

I have several topics in mind for the rest of the week. Whether or not they move from mind to keyboard remains to be seen.

KitKat got really lovey over the weekend, and not even in a bid to get fed. Jamie said she will change back. I kind of look forward to that because she picks times I don’t want her on me to get on me. You know, like a cat. ;)

Have a great week!

Demons are real

I started writing this post back in March, and then abandoned it to the drafts hole. As I write this “intro,” I am still teetering on the fence on whether to finish it and post it.

I have spent a week debating whether or not to write about what happened to me last week. For various reasons. Good, bad, or whatever. ;) I did tell a couple of people about it, so I didn’t hide it and/or pretend it didn’t happen. I mean, not that I could pretend it didn’t happen because I had a rough few days over it.

I had a demonic encounter. And I brought it on myself.

26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27, ESV)

I gave opportunity to the devil. And it was over something that didn’t directly involve me, and was something that I thought I had let go, but when I was struck, I knew immediately that 1) I had just “physically” been struck though I could not see what hit me, and 2) that I had dwelled too many times for too long on a particular event. That scared the crap out of me. Not the attack, but the fact that I invited it. Then I spent the next couple of days fighting off an onslaught of angry thoughts about various other events where I should have spoken up and pointed out how things that were said and/or done were both unbiblical and unloving. But I remained silent in fear of confrontation. Mainly. Because I have a strong fight or flight response to confrontation, and flight is default. Part of it is that I know deep down whatever pisses me off the most, is more often than not something that I struggle with. Also, I have been known to act/speak without thinking through the whole situation and ended up at least as wrong as whatever I got hacked off about.

But anyway, as I came out of this encounter, I faced several things about myself that were exposed because of it.

    Self-righteous arrogance pisses me off because I am so self-righteous and arrogant.

    Gossip and backbiting piss me off because I have done and find that I still do it myself so often.

    Controlling busybodies piss me off because I am such a control freak.

    Dismissive know-it-alls piss me off because I have long been a dismissive know-it-all.

    Elitists piss me off because I am one too.

So as I envisioned my anger as righteous anger such as Jesus had when he drove the money changers out of the temple, it seems as though I have a lot more in common with the money changers. I love to be right. And I love to argue, except that I hate to argue because I suck at it. I realize the complete contradiction that statement is.

All that said, and everything offset in the blockquote is from March, this hasn’t been an isolated incident. That was just the first one that happened where I recognized what was happening. I had suspicions that there was demonic activity going on around me, and prayed for discernment. I still continue to pray for ongoing discernment to know the truth about my own ongoing struggles to know which are internal and which are external. In other words, what is coming from the old me, and what is demonic influence/oppression.

Now at this point, I still haven’t seen a demon while awake/conscious that I am completely sure was a demon. I did see something run through the living room earlier this year that I thought at first was KitKat until I looked again and couldn’t find her in the living room (and she can’t move silently that fast anyway), and then asked Jamie if KitKat was in her (locked) room. Which she was. So it wasn’t KitKat. Too small and dark to be Gizmo. So I erred on the side of caution and rebuked it.

I have had dreams (nightmares) over the years where there was a presence trying to get me that I could feel, but never see. These dreams are always different from the nightmares of murderers, rapes, nuclear detonation, snakes, spiders, car wrecks, falling, tornados, etc. In the last couple of years, I had one of the “presence” dreams only I saw it coming at me, and knew exactly what it was waking up as I cried out to Jesus. I have since heard people describe demons they have seen, and it was exactly what was in my dream.

Why am I sharing this? I think there are a lot of Christians who are completely ignorant as to what spiritual warfare is about because they don’t truly believe demonic activity can have any contact with them. That said, I do not believe that a believer in Christ, sealed with the Holy Spirit can be possessed by demons. But there is no scriptural basis for the teaching and belief that demons can’t do anything to you once you are saved. In fact, I would say the Bible teaches just the opposite. They can touch us and they can afflict us and they will do it because the enemy “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” He already has the lost, and he has already lost. But what better way to keep unbelievers in darkness than to damage the Light because as believers we are the light of Jesus here on earth.

So don’t believe you can’t be touched or influenced because you are still at war, and the enemy is real.

Ephesians 6:11-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,